Monday, March 31, 2008

Thor is Lonely!

For the last month, our college kids have been shuffling in and out of here. This past week, our 20 year old son, who's a very enthusiastic dog companion, has been home; he left yesterday. Thor's been delighted that he had someone in his weight/energy class to play "rope" and "lobster" with. His big problem is that Thor will be 7 in early May - that's like 80 in Mastiff years - so he gets tired out after playing with Jeffrey for a while. So, what's a poor English Mastiff to do when he gets tired and Jeffrey keeps taking his toys? Why, take his toys and sit next to the Alpha Dog in the house - Dad. He's reputed to be the meanest SOB on the hill. No one would dare take a lobster from him. But today, with Jeffrey gone, Thor and his lobster are lying sadly in the kitchen, periodically getting up to patrol the family room and playroom to see if his buddy has returned. Only 6 weeks, my faithful doggy companion, until your pal comes home again.

On another note, here's a question for anyone who might read this: How much would you pay for the Tidy Sisters to paint, say, your kitchen or living room? My daughters are facing a summer during which they must obtain gainful employment. They worked for a friend of ours painting his apartments last summer, and I've suggested to them that they take out a classified ad offering their painting services. Our friend is a fast, meticulous painter, and he said my girls are the best he's ever had. Indeed, they repainted the trim and ceiling in our kitchen/breakfast room for me last November, and left no mess. I am a poor judge of what a "real" person would pay for this service, since my house is much larger than average, and I would welcome any comments from anyone as to how much repainting rooms is worth. Thanks in advance!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

"You Can't Fry Stawberries!"

So cried several of my children when they saw me with the skillet in one hand and the strawberries in the other. But "fry" them I did, and they were universally hailed as a great success.

In the paper last week, one of the food columns pointed out that "out of season" strawberries often lack flavor and juiciness, and offered this recipe for sauteed strawberries. They suggested layering them with plain yogurt, but I opted for the exquisitely caloric option of using them for a topping for pound cake and vanilla ice cream.


1 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. lime juice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 pint strawberries, sliced or quartered.

In a skillet over medium-low heat, stir together the first four ingredients; heat until bubbling and slightly thickened. Add the strawberries, and heat for about 2 minutes, stirring often. Serve immediately.

Also, note that, for the record, my dessert was the piece of plain pound cake barely visible in the bottom left corner of the picture. I just don't like my foods mixed together, and can't stand soggy cake.

And while contemplating my children who were slightly disgruntled at the treasonous idea of "frying" strawberries, I wondered why people are often disgruntled, but never gruntled. Further investigation in my dictionary revealed that the word first came into use in the 1600s, derived from the middle English word "gruntlen", or to grunt. Which further leads to the thought that the prefix "dis-" means "opposite of", so disgruntled doesn't really mean what it should. Hmmm. And this kind of thought process is why my dearly beloved husband laughs at me.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Pork Roast

When reading Wednesday's Wall Street Journal (on Thursday), I came upon an article about pig farmers in England losing money on their products. To publicize their plight, they recorded a song and video called "Stand By Your Ham". Of course, I had to google it, and it made me giggle. It also reminded me of a recipe I had seen in the Wall Street Journal a couple of Saturdays ago. They were interviewing a chef named Donald Link from Louisiana, and he said he likes to cook this at home.


1 Boneless Pork Butt (around 8 pounds)
salt & pepper
2 tbsp. oil
2 onions, sliced thin
8 garlic cloves, sliced thin

1 tbsp. rosemary
1 tbsp. thyme
1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups chicken broth
juice of 1/2 lemon

Rub the salt and pepper into the port; let it sit about 30 minutes.

Slice the onion and garlic; mix with the rosemary and thyme and set aside.

In a dutch oven, brown the pork in the oil. Remove from the pan to a platter. Add the butter to the pan and melt it. Whisk in the
flour; combine until smooth. Stir in the onion mixture until it's coated with the butter/flour combo, then whisk in the chicken broth until smooth. Bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat. Return the meat and juices to the dutch oven. Roast, covered, in the oven at 275 for 3 to 4 hours, basting every hour, until the roast is up to 170.

Remove the pork roast from the dutch oven, and let it sit on a platter. Skim the fat off the broth in the pan, and simmer the broth over medium-high heat until it is reduced by 1/3 and coats the back of the spoon. Squeeze in the lemon juice. Serve with white rice and collard greens with bacon.

I didn't have a dutch oven, so I used a covered roaster. I also used garlic powder instead of garlic. Other than that, I went "by the book" on this one. Oh, and I'm not from Louisiana, so I'm not quite sure of the "collard greens" thing. We ate spinach. Jeffrey ate some leftovers for breakfast, so it must have met with his approval.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


For Easter, my kids brought me two pots of flowers. I was quite surprised. My sons gave me the Easter Lily, while my daughters bought me the splashy purple chrysanthemum. All of the trumpets on the lily are now open, and my breakfast room smells magnificent. I know it'll only last a week or so, but it's an especially nice way to wake up in the morning, particularly for someone who strenuously objects to mornings!

Today my 6th grade son was taking the sixth of eight all encompassing tests for his Calvert School curriculum. Some of the questions are truly astonishing; they truly do expect children to learn a lot! I pay a little extra for their "advisory teaching service", which means I can send these tests and they will grade and return them. Good thing, too; every question is expected to be answered in one or more complete sentences, unless, of course, they want one or more paragraphs. Sample questions (Cole, you should stop reading here): In Reading: "Write a paragraph or two explaining what a blues or ja poem is, citing the elements that make up its poetic pattern....." In History, explain the historical significance of: King Darius, The Delian League, Marathon, the Peloponnesian War. Discuss the importance of sanctuaries. What were Pericles' goals, and how did he accomplish them. In Art History, describe Vela's "The Last Days of Napoleon." Geography: "Why does India have difficulty feeding its entire population?" That's nowhere near all of them, but the kid really had to learn his stuff, and really has to think. This curriculum has been around for over one hundred years, and I only regret that I didn't know about it for my older kids. Instead, I sent them to school, and, because I felt the schools were lacking, drilled Math and Grammar into their heads (for Grammar, I used a set of books from 1898. And, I tell you what, those kids can write!).

Tonight, I'm trying a new pork roast recipe, found in the Wall Street Journal. My dearly beloved wanted to know what the hell that was doing in the Journal; I told him it was one of life's great mysteries. I will let you know how it turns out.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My Girls Came Home

You may recall that my 2 younger daughters went to visit their older sister's college, leaving on Sunday. This is the three of them at the airport at 5:30AM Sunday, ready to get on the plane:
The younger girls, the redhead and brunette, arrived back this afternoon. Just a note, my youngest has below waist lenght strawberry blond hair with a natural wave, and she wore it in a bun on the plane ride both ways because "it's ridiculously long, and would smell like plane!" I don't know what "plane" smells like, but I'll tell you what, I'd be eternally grateful if my hair would grow more than about 5" below my shoulders, as would her sisters.

The girls had a splendid time; I'm glad I agreed to spend the money for the adventure, because the older daughter graduates in May; this opportunity won't arise again. She took only 3 years to get her degree, and she will graduate with honors, having made the Dean's List all 5 (soon to be 6) semesters. She's going to law school, and was disappointed that she wasn't accepted to Yale Law (but her parents weren't). So, I need to make flight arrangements for my husband, 2 little boys and me; the poor dog will be miserable for 4 days. Heck, he's never seen the parents leave for more than a day. Should be interesting.


Fish is a quick, easy dinner that always seems to sit lightly - you just never feel overstuffed, as often happens with beef!

Last night, this was just what I needed. A couple of haddock fillets, some rice and seasonings, and we were all set!


1 lb. Haddock fillets, cut into 2" long segments
1/4 cup diced carrots (2 medium)
1/4 cup diced celery (about 3 ribs)
3 chopped green onions
1/4 cup butter
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp. sherry
salt & pepper to taste

Melt 2 tbsp butter in a skillet. Cook fish until done (this thick piece took about 5 minutes per side, but I've had plenty which were done in 2). Remove fish to warm plate, and cover. Add remaining 2 tbsp. butter to skillet, and add the veggies. Saute about 3 to 5 min
utes, until tender. Whisk in cornstarch, then cream, milk and sherry. Add just a tiny bit of salt and freshly ground pepper. Heat until thickened, then add the fish back to the sauce to reheat. Serve with rice.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Don't Adjust the Color on your Monitor!

My kids love this cake. The colors are pretty vibrant, and shocking, the first time you see it. Deceptively easy to make, it's got a very fresh and springy/fruity sort of flavor.


1 Yellow Cake Mix, split in half
2 eggs, twice
3 tbsp oil, twice
5/8 cup water, twice
1 Box Orange Flavored Jello
1 Box Lime Flavored Jello
1 pint Whipping Cream
1 tsp Lemon Extract
1/2 cup sugar

Split the yellow cake mix in half: You will use approximately 1-3/4 cups mix for each layer. Beat the cake mix, one box Jello, 2 eggs, 3 tbsp. oil and 5/8 cup water for 2 minutes, until smooth. Pour into a greased & floured round layer pan. Repeat for the other flavor. Bake the layers at 350 for about 32 to 35 minutes, until they test done. Note that the tops of the cake will not rise as they do with most cakes, and may be sunken when the cake cool.

When the layers are completely cooled, beat the whipping cream with the lemon extract and sugar until quite stiff. Frost the cake with the whipped cream, and store it in the refrigerator.

This, with strawberry topped cheesecake, was our Easter dessert. It was all gone by Monday night, and would have been gone sooner had my girls not left the state 12 hours after dinner was over!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Happy Easter

My oldest daughter is at the University of Wyoming, and very much wanted her sisters to go back to college with her for a few days at the end of her spring break, which was Easter Sunday. So, they told the little brothers that they were going to write to the Easter Bunny (who I'm told gets his mail c/o Santa at the North Pole), and he magnanimously agreed to deliver Easter a day early. Yeah, my older kids are either (a) very good at carrying on myths for the benefit of little people, or (b) happy to get candy from any source, including invented rabbits. So, Easter Saturday it was, and what an Easter Saturday it was! The bunny hid all of their baskets together in a car trunk, instead of scattered through the house as he (she) usually does, and left a note on the front step telling them to check with "Steve", the car in question (who belongs to one of the girls, of course....mine are usually named "Start you piece of crap" because I start them so rarely).

Naturally, the dog thought the chase around the house was great fun, and whined because he couldn't have candy....ah, well, Milk Bones saved the day.

Lamb for dinner. I usually season it with rosemary and garlic, but decided to try something different. I highly recommend this, compliments of Craig Claiborne:

Roast Lamb

2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup diced carrot
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced scallion

Saute for about 5 minutes and scatter in the bottom of the roasting pan

1 leg of lamb
2 tbsp butter, softened
2 garlic cloves, sliced
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup white wine

Loosen the lamb from the bone, and insert the garlic therein. Place the lamb in the pan, atop the vegetables. Pour the wine over the lamb, then rub the softened butter over it, and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast at 325 for 20 minutes per pound, basting occasionally. About 40 minutes before t
he lamb's done, remove the lamb from the pan, scoop out the vegetables, and return the lamb to the pan. Pour one more cup wine and 2 cups chicken stock into the pan. Use your favorite method to make gravy, and serve with "Heart Attack Potatoes": Cut unpeeled redskinned potatoes into bite sized chunks, boil until done, and drain. Melt 1 stick butter per 2 pounds potatoes, and add 2 tbsp dried parsley and freshly ground pepper to taste. Stir the potatoes into the butter mix and serve. ( My daughters dreamed up this name for these potatoes, because they are "deadly delicious").

Marjie's changes to the lamb recipe:

Given my husband's recently developed allergy to garlic, I used about 1 tsp garlic powder sprinkled on with the salt and pepper. It still smelled and tasted great! I also used, because it was what I had, white zinfandel instead of white wine.

For the gravy, I used 1 tbsp. cornstarch whisked with 1/4 cup cold water, and stirred into the pan drippings after the fat was skimmed off.

I had 2 small slices of lamb left over from a 9 pound roast; I'd call that a successful recipe. My 4th son, who was also home for spring break, sliced the lamb for me. He's a fine looking guy, if I may say so myself; this is the on
ly picture of the lamb I got, since he immediately hauled it to the table!

I also made the error of letting him and my husband give Thor the lamb bone. Thor is so big that I feared he'd splinter the bone, and he did, within 10 minutes. When he started coughing, I used a child's medicine dropper, and began dripping vegetable oil down his throat. (I thought it would be easier than trying to Heimlich a 265 pound dog.) It worked; Thor coughed up the splinter that was bothering him, and now everyone agrees that Mom may be mean, but it's for their dog's best. Look how happy he was with his bone:
And notice that he dwarfs the bone; those are 15" tiles on my floor.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Brownie Tuesdays

Some years ago, while waiting with a few of the kids for a dog at a vet's office, we stopped by a restaurant and had Brownie Sundaes (or, the kids did. I don't like baked chocolate goods). A couple of weeks later, bored with my usual dessert selections, I created Brownie Tuesdays. Brownies with pudding on top, and sometimes with whipped cream, or sometimes candy, atop that, are considered a fine dessert hereabouts. I came up with this idea on a Tuesday night, thus, they are Brownie Tuesdays. I usually use this recipe:

BROWNIES (Cake Style)

2 eggs
1 cup sugar

Beat together until light

1 stick of butter, melted
6 tbsp. cocoa powder
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla

Mix together thoroughly; stir into egg mixture.

3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

Sift together and stir into wet ingredients

Stir in 1 cup chopped nuts, if desired. Bake in 8x8 or 7x10 pan at 350 for 22 to 26 minutes.

For the pudding, I often use homemade butterscotch (which requires planning ahead a couple of hours) or French vanilla, seen in this photo. The "peeps" were the seasonal touch. These were served last night, since I had 2 sickly kids on Tuesday, but the college kids expect to see Brownie Tuesdays at least one night a week when they're home on breaks. (Debbie Cook's post on her son's expectations of Quesadilla Night reminded me of what goes on here!)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


This has nothing to do with food, or sewing. It is, however, a real puzzlement to me.

I've put 6 kids into college. My oldest, who is unarguably one of the most successful college students I've personally ever heard of, is out at the age of 24 with a BS in Industrial Engineering, MA & PhD in Economics. It cost us a whopping $32,000. No, I didn't drop any zeros there. No, he took out no student loans. No, we didn't refinance our house. 32 grand. How? Academics.

All of my kids are "gifted". This son decided in 8th grade that he was upset that two boys in his class always outperformed him in 7th grade, and started getting straight As on his report cards. Never stayed home sick from school, always did all the homework and then some ("those other kids in the group weren't doing their part, so I did the whole project for all 4 of us."), competed in the Junior Academy of Science, belonged to Boy Scouts, earned various scholastic awards, graduated #12 out of 320 kids, SAT scores of 790 verbal, 700 math, and got an enormous scholarship. By contrast, this article in the New York Times says that basically there are no free rides for sports, even football! I hear parents who actually start their kids in school late so they will be "bigger, and get more scholarships!" The New York Times says that just can't happen here - and explains why. These kids work harder than everyone else, according to this article.

This certainly doesn't mean that children shouldn't play in sports because they enjoy them. But that is the only valid reason, because to think it can be financially rewarding is a fool's errand. If just one person rethinks making their children's lives, and their own, very difficult because they're working so hard at what should be a fun game for the kids, I'm happy to have written this. Just an observation of life by a very experienced Mom.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Count on Little Kids to Speak the Truth

Yesterday, as he was eating a hot cross bun, my 8 year old saw a picture of Jay Leno on the front of the TV Guide in the newspaper. He studied it for a minute, then announced, "That man's ugly." I told him that it was Leno (I tape his show when they have animals on, and let the boys watch it the next day.) My son's response: "That doesn't change the fact that he's ugly." You can't argue with such logic.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Hot Cross Buns

My husband doesn't have a terribly sweet tooth. So, about a decade ago, when I had found a recipe for Hot Cross Buns and made them Easter weekend, he was just in his glory. This year, I decided that I was tired of getting up early to be sure he had great food to eat, while the kids were pigging out on candy. This being the weekend before Easter, I tried an experiment last night. First, the basic recipe for 2 dozen Hot Cross Buns, from a bread machine cookbook by Donna Rathmell German (not her original recipe - I doubled it).


1-1/2 cups milk
4 eggs
6 tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
6 cups flour
3 tsp yeast

1 cup raisins

I had to use the mixer for this one, because it's much too large for the bread machine to mix. Mix all ingredients except raisins together, and beat at low speed or knead until smooth, about 10 minutes. Add the raisins and beat or knead another 5 minutes. Let the dough ball rest for 10 minutes, then divide it into 24 pieces; form the pieces into balls and put on greased baking trays. Brush with one egg yolk mixed with 2 tsp. water, and let rise 45 to 50 minutes, or until doubled in bulk. Bake at 375 for 20 to 25 minutes; remove from the oven and let cool. Mix together 1 cup confectioners sugar, 1/2 tsp. vanilla and 1 tsp. milk, and drizzle onto each bun in the shape of a cross.

If you're going to bake these as soon as they've risen, use warm milk, approx. 100 degrees. If not, use cooler milk. I used my milk straight out of the refrigerator (so, probably 33 degrees), and only used 2 tsp yeast, and it took a couple of hours in the morning to rise. Bummer! Next time, I'll use it at around 60 degrees, and use the full amount of yeast; that should cure the rising speed. They did come out beautiful, as you can see:

Before that photo was even taken, or before all of the buns were even frosted, my dearly beloved was helping me by ascertaining that these were all edible. That caused the 5 kids who were home to hang over the passthrough between kitchen and breakfast room, salivating, until the tray got put onto the passthrough. I did get one (which has been known to not happen), and this is the tray 12 minutes after it hit the counter:

If my recipes sometimes seem absurdly large, this probably helps explain why. Bear in mind that only one of my four large sons was home this morning, and only 5 of the 9 total kids were here. Ah, well, next weekend the one son who was here, but had to go back to college today, may return for Easter weekend, and 2 other kids will be home on Thursday night. I'll probably go for 3 dozen next weekend.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Buttermilk Bread and Butter

Thursday afternoon, my youngest read a chapter in Smiling Hill Farm about the family holding a harvest barbecue; included in the lesson was the suggestion that the child make butter. College brother helped with this one; the directions were quite simple: Pour 1/2 pint whipping cream into a 1 pint jar. Add 1/4 tsp salt, if desired. Put the lid on tightly and shake vigorously for a long time. The little guy took his butter for a ride to the store with his brother in brother's pickup truck, because "a bouncy truck will help shake it!" Or, maybe that was just an excuse to ride in big brother's truck. Fun either way. After a while, the cream started to get pretty thick, so I handed it to the big brother, and said, "SHAKE!" In a very small number of minutes, it solidified, and there was some splendid butter in the bottom of the jar. I poured the liquid out of that jar into another, and put it into the refrigerator; the boys and Dad demolished most of the butter and 1-1/2 of the loaves of buttermilk bread I had made before dinner even hit the table. Dinner was Chicken Newburg, for which I had posted a poor picture previously; here's a better shot:

The next day, I researched in my trusty 1930s Encyclopedia of Cookery and discovered that the liquid which comes out of cream when butter is made is technically buttermilk. This is typically treated with something to make it more sour. So, I combined that liquid with water and buttermilk powder to create the correct amount of buttermilk, and made 2 new loaves of buttermilk. This is one white bread you really should try!


1-1/4 cup buttermilk
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp baking soda
6 tsp yeast

Combine ingredients and knead dough until smooth (I use my breadmaker's pasta dough setting), and let rise until doubled in size. Punch down and divide into 2 loaf pans. Let it rise again until doubled or tripled in size, then bake at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes, depending upon your desired crust darkness. Al an alternative to buttermilk, you can purchase buttermilk powder, and use 1 tbsp per quarter cup of water.

I'm trying a different technique for making Hot Cross Buns, so I can have them Easter morning without getting up at 7AM to make them, and will let you know how it works.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Always Listen to your mother

I always tell my kids that, and they laugh. My big sons all especially laugh, because they've been known to pick up their mother and move her if they don't want to listen. So, about 5 weeks ago, the son who's in college in Erie, PA, had his pickup truck conk out in the middle of an intersection. Since he was blocking virtually all traffic, another guy got out of HIS car to help push my son's truck into a nearby parking lot. My son called home, described his problem, and I told him to get AAA to tow it to a garage I'd found there when my son started college. I said this was either ignition or fuel delivery, but he'd never get the 300 miles home. AAA said, "No problem. We'll be there in 2 hours." My son ate a pizza, then his car started and he went back to the dorm. I warned him to get this taken care of lest he end up on the side of the road on the way home for spring break. Fast forward to last Friday. Near blizzard conditions, son stuck until Sunday. Son starts for home, truck dies again. Cop pushes son into same parking lot. This time, AAA towed him to the garage, which I called early Monday morning, and pleaded to get them to fix the truck faster than "by Wednesday or Thursday." We got lucky. They finished the truck by 4, and I waited dinner until 10 for my son to get home. Pasta Carbonara and fish was a fast, easy dinner for a half starved college kid. Of course, he probably would have eaten home cooked old shoes by the time he got here.


1 pound pasta
1/2 stick butter
1 cup whipping cream
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 to 1/2 cup grated parmesan
pepper to taste

Cook the pasta; drain and cover the colander. In the pasta pot, melt the butter, then add the cream and eggs and stir together. Grind in pepper - I used about 10 twists of the grinder - then add the pasta back to the pot and stir in the parmesan. Add milk if needed to make it creamy and smooth, and serve at once.

By the way, it's a Dodge Ram pickup, and the problem was caused by the throttle body being caked up, which contributed to the failure of the ignition control motor. This is evidently a common problem in Dodge vehicles, so anyone who drives a Dodge should be aware of that, and have their throttle body cleaned, probably at about 100K miles.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Elephant Ears

There's a story behind this. About 1993, when I'd had my stand mixer for a couple of years, my husband griped that I never made anything good. Cakes, brownies, mousse - if those aren't good, then what is? "Sponge Cake and elephant ears," was the response I got. To my inquiry of who ever made those for him, he responded that sponge cake was his grandfather's favorite, so his grandmother made it. Fair enough. And the elephant ears? "The Blue Elephant Bakery in Danbury used to make those for me." Not Fair! I can't complete with a Bakery! And, they made them for anyone with some money! I learned to make sponge cake, and made a variation on it, Lemon Sponge Cake, and he's been very happy with it. But the elephant ears still rankled with me, all these years later. So, last weekend, while looking for something else, I found a recipe for elephant ears! Holy Cow, or maybe, Holy Elephant! Yesterday, I got up at 10AM made a batch of 24 as an anniversary gift to my dearly beloved, so they'd be done before he got out of bed. Having given one to each of the six of us currently in the house, he started with 18; he's down to 5 now. So, I guess these were every bit as good as those at the Blue Elephant.


1-1/4 cups warm milk
3 tsp yeast (6 if you're impatient, like me)
4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Mix the dough ingredients together. On my bread machine, I use the "pasta dough" setting, which is 14 minutes long. The dough was a soft, slippery, buttery ball. Split the dough in half, and leat each ball rise until doubled in size. Roll each ball out into approximately a 12" square. Sprinkle half of the filling on each square, and roll up, jelly roll style. Cut each half into 12 pieces, and lay on greased cookie sheets (I used small cookie sheets, and put 6 on a sheet). Squish each flat with your palm (yes, let your inner 6 year old join in the process). They'll be about 5" diameter. Let them ris
e 20 to 30 minuts, or until doubled in thickness. Sprinkle the topping on them, and top each sheet with waxed paper. Mash them flat through the waxed paper again, this time with the rolling pin, squishing the topping into them. Immediately put them in a preheated 400 degree oven, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. I cooked mine for 4 minutes, then reversed the sheets on the top rack for the ones on the bottom, so they'd brown evenly. Remove to a cooling rack for a few minutes, then serve. Not too sweet, but enough to conquer any sweet tooth.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Red Shoes Need a Red Dress

...and that was the reason for my Valentine's Day dress. I bought these red shoes in the summer of (I'm pretty sure) 1988, at the shoe store in the plaza behind the art gallery on the Kingston Pike in Knoxville. We were getting some shoes for my dearly beloved, having made a deal with Joe and his brother for some oil paintings, and I saw these; I simply HAD to have them. Now, I did say the summer of 1988, some 20 years ago. And yet, you can still see the price tag inside them. Why? Because I've never had red clothing.

When I was in the cedar closet in our attic getting our Christmas Tree skirt out (yes, I live in an 80 year old house with a full attic and cedar closet), I found some red velveteen which has been riding around with us, pretty much unheeded, since I found it in a closet in our previous house. I had never even unfolded it, but I felt from the heft of it that it would make a nice winter dress. Well, it was indeed almost 3 yards long, but only 36" wide! So, I ended up with a lovely red velveteen sleeveless dress to wear on Valentine's Day. My poor hubby had to suffer with the heat set at 74 so I could finally wear my nice red shoes with a red dress. This is a picture I took of myself in the mirror; I'm chagrined to say that the little boys' handprints and dog's noseprints are too prominent. Sorry! But, as you can see, I was still wearing those red shoes!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Too Many Bananas

Out of many years' habit, I find myself frequently overbuying. This was the case last Friday, when my grocery delivery came in. I had joyously ordered a case of bananas - after all, everyone loves bananas! They make wonderful baked goods! They're terrific over ice cream! They'er a great early morning starter food! Uh, oh. I forgot that there are only 6 of us home right now, and, even though 4 of the other 5 arrive in the next 3 weeks, that won't save us from a case of bananas.

This was the top of my refrigerator on Monday morning, after a weekend of everyone stuffing themselves with bananas (after which they were half gone):Then, I came up with a brilliant plan: Start cooking, you fool! So, yesterday, I sent a loaf of banana bread to each of the 3 college kids within one day UPS travel (and have received 3 adoring phone calls today), made a banana cake, this one with vanilla frosting, and banana muffins, and found a delightful recipe for a yeast raised Banana Wheat bread.


1 cup warm water
6 tsp yeast
2 mashed bananas
3 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. sugar
1-1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour

Mix together in the bread maker. Let rise, punch down and put into 2 4x8 loaf pans. Let rise again, and bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes, or until desired darkness is reached.
This was great alone, and made very nice peanut butter sandwiches, according to my 11 year old. It was also excellent toasted; my boys reported to me that the butter soaked into it really well when it was toasted.

Of course, the bananas only cost $15 for the case. How could I have refused them? Note to self: I will not over order. I will not over order...(until next time)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Penne With Artichokes and Crab

This is a perfect lazy-night (in my case, Friday or Saturday) dinner. 1 pan, little fuss, and a nice change of pace from most pasta dishes.

2 pounds penne, cooked & drained

1 jar marinated artichokes
1 onion
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 oz. ham, cut into strips
1 can crabmeat
1 tsp. oregano
2 cups sour cream

Cover the penne so it stays warm while making the sauce. I usually pre-microwave the sour cream for a minute or 2, so it's warm when it goes into the pan.

Pour the liquid from the artichokes into the pan with the olive oil. Cook the onion in it. Add the crabmeat and ham; stir until warm, then add the sour cream. Quarter the artichoke hearts, and add them with the peas. Stir in the oregano, and heat, but do not boil. Add the penne back to the pan, and add heavy cream if there isn't enough sauce for your taste. Heat for a minute, until the penne is hot, and serve. The poor dog never gets the leftovers from this meal, because there aren't any!